News Scan for Oct 14, 2019

News brief

Saudi Arabia confirms 3 new MERS cases

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) this weekend reported three new MERS-CoV infections, bringing the total for the month to six.

The first MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involves an 80-year-old man in Buraydah in the north-central part of the country, the MOH said on Oct 12. Officials listed his case as "primary," meaning it's unlikely he contracted the disease from another MERS patient.

The MOH confirmed two cases yesterday, one involving a 26-year-old woman in Asir region in Saudi Arabia's southwest. Her infection is categorized as "secondary," indicating likely person-to-person spread. The other patient is a 72-year-old woman in Wadi ad-Dawasir, who has a primary infection. The agency said it's not known if any of the three newly infected patients had recent camel contact, a known MERS risk factor.

As of Sep 19, the World Health Organization's Eastern Mediterranean regional office said that, since 2012 officials have confirmed 2,468 MERS cases worldwide, at least 850 of them fatal. The vast majority of infections have been in Saudi Arabia.
Oct 12 MOH update
Oct 13 MOH update


Indiana reports first human EEE case since 1998, and it's fatal

Indiana health officials said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently confirmed Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in an Elkhart County resident who died as a result of the infection. On Twitter, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) said the case is the state's first since 1998 and only the fourth since 1964.

The virus had recently been detected in more than a dozen horses and one mosquito in northern Indiana. In a recent public notice, the ISDH said recent EEE activity in horses in Elkhart and LaGrange counties, plus the detection of human EEE cases in nearby Michigan counties, prompted aerial spraying in the affected areas.

Typically, only about seven human EEE cases are reported to the CDC each year, but the nation has seen a surge in the past few months, with at least 34 cases reported in seven other states besides Indiana, according to numbers reflected on the CDC ArboNet page. Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are among the hardest-hit states.

According to background information from the CDC, the disease, though rare, is most common in and around freshwater hardwood swamps in Atlantic and Gulf Coast states and in the Great Lakes region.
ISDH Twitter feed
ISDH public notice
CDC ArboNet page
CDC background information


Taiwan reports 2nd H5N5 avian flu outbreak; Mexico confirms more H7N3

In the latest highly pathogenic avian flu developments involving poultry, Taiwan reported a second H5N5 outbreak and Mexico reported six more involving H7N3, according to new notifications from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

In the middle of September, Taiwan reported its first H5N5 outbreak, which occurred at a duck farm in Kaohsiung, a city on the southwest coast. The latest event began Sep 28 at a farm housing native chickens in Pingtung County, also in the southwest. The virus killed 775 of 18,699 susceptible birds, and authorities culled the survivors. Other steps include movement restrictions, cleaning, disinfection, and stepped-up monitoring at surrounding poultry farms.

Also, Taiwan reported one more highly pathogenic H5N2 outbreak, part of ongoing activity since 2015 involving the subtype. The latest event struck a native chicken farm in Yunlin County, which led to the deaths of 991 of 35,336 birds. The remaining ones were culled as part of response measures.

Mexico's six new H7N3 outbreaks, meanwhile, all occurred in backyard birds in previously affected Jalisco state in the central part of the country. Start dates ranged from Sep 18 to Sep 25. Taken together, the virus killed 880 of 4,797 susceptible poultry. The remaining birds were culled, and the OIE report said a vaccine against H7N3 was deployed, following earlier approval by Mexico's agriculture ministry.
Oct 14 OIE report on H5N5 in Taiwan
Oct 14 OIE report on H5N2 in Taiwan
Oct 11 OIE report on H7N3 in Mexico

This week's top reads